All Posts By Samantha Seneviratne

Samantha Seneviratne Samantha Seneviratne is a New York-based writer, recipe developer and food stylist. She is the author of The New Sugar and Spice (Ten Speed Press), a baking cookbook combining family stories and food history with recipes that reimagine dessert as a more balanced mix of sugar and spice. Her second book, Gluten Free for Good (Clarkson Potter), comes out August 2016. She blogs about dessert at Love, Cake.

Bourbon-Peach Hand Pies — Bake-Ahead Batches

by in Recipes, December 1st, 2015

In New York, where I live, peaches mean summer. While rock-hard peaches can often be found in the produce section of my supermarket, a perfect summer specimen usually comes from the farmers market. Those sweltering summer Saturdays at the market are the best. I always try to eat one ripe piece of fruit while I amble home, bags of groceries swinging from my arms, and inevitably soak myself in peach juice. I wait for that experience all year round. And when it finally comes, it’s over before I know it.

A peach that has been picked too early may never fully ripen. But a juicy tree-ripened fruit is too delicate for shipping. That means that those greenish peaches that you see in the supermarket, plucked far before they were ready in some place far away, won’t ever become that delicious. What’s a peach lover to do?

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Raspberry Frangipane Tart — Bake-Ahead Batches

by in Recipes, November 24th, 2015

I can’t close my cupboards. Baking pans and rolling pins stick their sharp edges against the doors and make it impossible for me to tidy up. Metal mixing bowls roll out and topple onto the floor every day. I have stacks of rimmed baking sheets resting precariously against the wall just waiting to topple and crush my toes. I know I have too much baking equipment, and I fantasize about making a change. I plan for one glorious day when I’ll sort through the piles and take stock of what I truly need. I’ll create a clean and clutter-free work environment. Does any baker really need 12 offset spatulas?

When that day finally comes, I know the one pan I will surely keep. It’s not the most functional of the bunch. One might say it should be the first to go. But I will never get rid of it. It’s the one pan that just makes me smile to look at it. It’s my 9-inch fluted tart pan with the removable bottom. Amidst all of my overflowing baking clutter, it’s my favorite.

I love it because it’s the perfect size. Nine inches of tart is plenty to feed a small crowd, but not too big to be portable. I love it because everything made in a fluted tart pan looks pretty. And I love the action of slipping off the sides to reveal a perfect fluted edge. It’s a dainty pan. It’s decorative and frilly. And it is beloved. If I could, I’d make every dessert in a 9-inch fluted tart pan.

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Cranberry Ginger Sticky Buns — Bake-Ahead Batches

by in Recipes, November 17th, 2015

Cranberry Ginger Sticky BunsI used to be afraid of yeasted recipes. When I was kid, I was desperate to bake with yeast. I wanted to enjoy the pillow-soft texture that you can get only from warm-from-the-oven, freshly baked, homemade treats. But I could never make my breads rise. There were a few likely explanations. First of all, since yeasted baking projects were an infrequent occurrence in our house, chances were that the yeast was anywhere from 1 to 21 years old. Secondly, our drafty house could be quite chilly during those long New England winters. I could barely rise out of my own warm bed every morning. How could I expect my doughs to budge? And I probably overcompensated for the temperature with boiling-hot milk, no doubt killing my yeast before things even got rolling.

Thankfully, as an adult, I’ve learned how to keep my yeast happy. I always store it in the freezer. (That keeps it fresh longer.) And if there is any doubt, I proof it before adding it to the dough. This recipe doesn’t call for proofing the yeast, but it’s easy to do. Simply dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and let it stand for 5 minutes. If the yeast gets nice and foamy, add it to the flour mixture and proceed with the recipe as written. If it doesn’t, start over with new yeast.

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Blueberries-and-Cream Slab Pie — Bake-Ahead Batches

by in Recipes, November 10th, 2015

Up until some years ago, I was a cultivated-blueberry kind of gal. I’m from Connecticut, and those fat, sweet blueberries were ubiquitous. The cultivated blueberries were the ones we picked in the patches on sticky summer days. And they were always the ones we used to dot our pancakes and load our muffins. Until recently I never gave my blueberry choice any thought. Those babies were refreshing and tasty, and I loved them.

Then I met a man from Maine. And I met his mother. I can remember one evening some years ago when said mother, Deborah, served us a rustic blueberry galette for dessert. She told us how she had gone for a hike and come across a patch of ripe wild Maine blueberries. She picked what she could, took them back home and baked them into a simple pastry crust. I was amazed. First of all, the color of those syrupy cooked blueberries was unlike anything I had seen — so deep and purple. The thick, glorious juice had bubbled up and over the edge of the crust and had caramelized seductively underneath. Second, the flavor of those wild blueberries was unique. They tasted of blueberry times 10. They were floral and savory, with the perfect jammy balance of tart and sweet. That galette was simple perfection and changed the way I looked at blueberries forever.

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Pumpkin Scones — Bake-Ahead Batches

by in Recipes, November 3rd, 2015

Pumpkin SconesI think a perfect scone straddles the line between biscuit and cake. It should be neither overly sweet nor too dense. And I like it to have a bit of crumble. To me, the perfect scone is the kind of snack that would be better with a cup of tea, but not impossible to eat without it.

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Chocolate Graham Crackers — Bake-Ahead Batches

by in Recipes, October 27th, 2015

I’m not sure Sylvester Graham would be happy with the addition of chocolate to his namesake cracker, but these chocolate graham crackers are wonderful nevertheless. Graham was a 19th-century Presbyterian minister who believed in vegetarianism, fresh air, fruits, vegetables and whole wheat for a healthy constitution. He was one of the early proponents of health food and invented graham bread. It was made with his special blend of whole-wheat flour and without the chemicals and bleaches that had become popular at the time.

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Apple Fritters — Bake-Ahead Batches

by in Recipes, October 20th, 2015

Apple FrittersDuring my junior year of high school I spent my Saturdays behind the counter of a local doughnut shop. It wasn’t a glamorous job, but I was happy surrounded by fried dough. The regulars were kind. The tips were adequate. And I was content with all the iced coffee I could guzzle during my six-hour shift.

While I rarely indulged in a doughnut during work hours, I often brought treats home for my family to share. The apple fritters were our favorites. When most people think of apple fritters, they probably imagine bucolic apple orchards, rustic baskets of overflowing, just-picked fruit and somebody’s beloved grandmother with her secret recipe. Not me. I think of the apple fritters I brought home from the smoky doughnut shop, tucked into a waxy bag and reheated in the microwave. My brother and would share a piping-hot, knobby pastry while standing up at the island in our suburban kitchen. There was nothing charming about the ritual. But the fritters were exceptionally delicious, and that’s all we cared about.

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Triple-Chocolate Boston Cream Pie — Bake-Ahead Batches

by in Recipes, October 13th, 2015

My first encounter with Boston cream pie was in doughnut form when I was in middle school. My best friend Melissa’s family had a standing Saturday doughnut-breakfast policy. It was one of my favorite parts about sleeping over her place on Friday night. Her parents would go out early Saturday morning and bring the treats back for us. While they drank coffee, we ate doughnuts in our pajamas. I always chose Boston cream and I always wished I could eat more than one.

There is something so magical about the Boston cream combination: cool, creamy custard nestled in fluffy cake and topped with bittersweet chocolate. It’s the perfect dessert for the indecisive. Chocolate, vanilla, cake and custard all wrapped up in one. It’s a genius invention.

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Browned-Butter Pound Cake — Bake-Ahead Batches

by in Recipes, October 6th, 2015

The pound cake is the underdog of the dessert world. It’s not flashy. It’s old-fashioned. It’s simple. But I implore you to take a closer look. If you give it a chance, the pound cake will never disappoint.

First of all, the ingredient list is short. You probably have all the ingredients to make a pound cake right now. That means that no cake craving need ever go unanswered. Second, the method is uncomplicated. It is easy to make and easy to bake. Third, a well-wrapped pound cake freezes exceptionally well. Keep a backup in your freezer at all times to thwart any cake emergency. And, most importantly, pound cake is delicious. Made with a hefty dose of real butter and fresh vanilla bean, the downy cake tastes rich, decadent and far lovelier than the sum of its parts.

Once you’ve gotten your fill of the basic cake, feel free to dress it up. Slice it into layers, reassemble it with ice cream and refreeze it for a gorgeous hot-weather treat. Layer it with fruit and custard to transform it into an elegant trifle. Top it with strawberries and whipped cream for simplified shortcake. You can even grill it to make an unexpected barbecue dessert.

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Banana Snack Cake with Coconut, Chocolate and Pecan Streusel — Bake-Ahead Batches

by in Recipes, September 29th, 2015

You know what drives me nuts? Bananas. Have you noticed how a whole bunch of bananas will always become ready to eat on the same day? I fight a losing battle with my bananas every week. I want to eat one every day. But it never works out that way. Inevitably I end up having to down five ripe ones in one afternoon. I’ve tried to rip apart bunches of varying ripeness and assemble the perfect hybrid bunch at the store. But I don’t think supermarkets condone that kind of behavior. And I’m a timid rule breaker.

Thankfully, the overripe banana is the baker’s best friend. Unlike wilted lettuce and mealy apples, squishy brown bananas make for fabulous baked goods. I keep them in a big plastic bag in the freezer, adding super-soft specimens weekly. They can hang out there for months, just waiting for their opportunity to shine.

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